What I find interesting about P90X is that I really didn't intend to take it seriously, and it still sucked me in.

Libby (David U. Libby) bought a copy and left it on my server one day. This means that it was suddenly available, day and night, on every television in the house. It became impossible for me to ignore. 

At first I thought – "I'll just do the Ab Ripper X every other day and see what happens." For about three months, I fired up the drag-me-straight-to-hell ab routine and cranked out sixteen minutes of resultless sweat. I definitely got better at the routine, but that was the only result I saw.

Then, one day in March, I decided to try Chest & Back, just to see what it was like. I had to buy a couple of weights and a pullup bar, but the investment was really low. I didn't write anything down that first day (you're supposed to record how you do on each exercise), and it kinda kicked my ass, but it was fun. I documented the first day's lessons with a Top 10 list. After that first day, I just kept doing it to see what would happen.  What happens is this – P90X becomes quite addictive. You feel better, have more energy, and steadily improve at the routines. I wasn't restricting my calories (much), but you still lose some weight and definitely lose some inches

After finishing the first round, I took a week off and then dove back in with a loftier goal – I was going to do "doubles" (which tosses in an extra cardio routine on all the weight days), and cut back to 1200 calories a day. For the first month (July), I experienced amazing results. I had already bulked up and slimmed down, but I still lost twenty pounds during July, and it felt easy.

weightI would have stuck with that plan all the way through round two, but then I got sick. I wasn't very sick –  I just had a slight cold one Tuesday (which was my stretch day) that lingered into Wednesday. I felt just bad enough that I came home after work and decided I wouldn't do Chest, Shoulders, and Triceps, or Abs, or Cardio. This was the first time I'd ever cancelled a P90X day, so I felt guilty. When I woke up feeling great on Thursday, I figured it was time to make up for slacking off.

Thursday, July 28th, I did four workouts: Chest, Shoulders, and Triceps; Abs; Cardio; and Plyometrics. Friday, July 29th, I discovered that I had a hernia. No big deal, I got it fixed, but it did force me to take a break from the obsessive workouts.

A strange thing happened while I was on my workout break. Normally, even on a restricted-calorie diet, if I'm not working out then I maintain about two hundred pounds. It takes concerted effort for me to get down to one-eighty. I was at one-eighty, but I was definitely concerting the effort, so it made sense. When I couldn't work out anymore, I expected to nudge back up. I didn't want to, but I expected it.

Instead of drifting back up (with the exception of a very brief surgery-spike), my weight continued to drop. Granted, I was still eating less than two-thousand calories a day, but not religiously less. And I certainly indulged in many bowls of french fries at the various fall fairs. So now, I'm down in the one-sixties, and I'm not really 100% sure why. Have you ever looked in the mirror and noticed that your skin is kinda draped over your shoulders, like a cloak? I never had until yesterday.

Hopefully, with another round of P90X imminent, I can ramp up the calories and start adding muscle back to fill things out a bit. Here's to good health! Cheers.

When did everyone give up on saying "Wednesday" and "February" how they're spelled? The British haven't, I guess, but everyone else has.

FebCalI know a guy who freaks out when anyone shortens History to Hist'ry, but he happily says Vet'rans and Vet'rinarians. Most people I know say Offin (instead of Often), too. But seriously, nobody wants to screw around trying to put an extra D in Wednesday, or an extra R in February. Seriously.

There was an interesting story the other day that AIDs kills cancer. It doesn't -- that was just the sound bite way the story was marketed around the intersweb. Your mom told me about it here.

Well, another interesting story resurfaced this week (from 2008) about how cancer kills AIDs. It doesn't -- the story was about a guy who got an intense treatment for leukemia, and the treatment cured him of AIDs. Neat, huh? Anyway, the reason the story came back up was because it looks like the technique has been franchised to other patients. Neat, huh?

 

My word of the day is pareidolia.

turtlecloudThis is the phenomenon where people can find meaning in even the most random stimuli. When you look at a cloud and see a cloud that looks like a turtle, or play Black Sabbath backwards and hear Ozzy saying, "I think that any good investment strategy should include a mix of stable commodities and higher-risk ventures, such as overseas technology."

Pareidolia is probably the root of every "paranormal" "evidence" ever collected. It's probably the basis of every major religion. It's certainly the rock-solid foundation of numerology.

I love pareidolia, and it makes happy chair very happy.

I really miss red light cameras.

These cameras were really gaining traction a few years ago. They began to appear at traffic signals all over the place. The concept seems sound to me – it just takes a photo of any vehicle cross against the signal, and then captures their license plate. The owner of the vehicle is automatically sent a ticket in the mail. You get the fine, but you don't get points on your license.

redlightThere are a couple of things wrong with the concept. First, you don't really know who's driving. So you have to throw out a certain amount of tickets if they're contested in court. Second, they're susceptible to "plate cloning," which students did in Maryland to get revenge on people they didn't like. I love plate cloning – you just find a similar vehicle and print out fake plates to tape over the real ones. Then you drive around and run lights. Awesome. Third, some people feel it's a very "Big Brother-ish" privacy violation. Normally, this would be a very compelling argument for me, but if you're blowing through red lights, I want you to be fined.

There's one light right near me. People fly through this thing all the time. When we had active cameras, I enjoyed watching them break the law knowing that a letter would be on its way to them with a nice, shiny fine.

The only problem is this: Maine banned the use of red light cameras back in 2009. Richard Cebra introduced the bill.

"While on the surface these cameras may appear to increase public safety, recent studies have shown that they actually increase the occurrences of accidents at intersections where the public is aware that there is a camera," Cebra said in a statement. "The placement of these cameras is also a civil rights issue, creating the issuing of a summons and possible fines and jail time to the owner of a vehicle and not necessarily the actual driver of the vehicle. In many places around the country, these cameras have become nothing more than a money-maker for municipalities."

Now, I understand that there have been a few bad eggs. In fact several cities actually shortened the time of the yellowintersection (amber) light so they could get more revenue from violations. There's only one thing shown to decrease the likelihood of traffic accidents at a traffic signal – increasing the duration of the yellow light. Shortening the light makes an intersection more deadly. So, to increase profit and at the risk of harming motorists, they shortened the yellow lights. That's a little rude; even I understand that.

However, I don't like the idea that we've banned these cameras just because it's a civil rights issue. Driving is a privilege, not a right. That's what my driver's ed teacher always used to say. We agree that only those who learn and accept our set of laws will drive on our publicly maintained streets. One of those laws says that you can't blast through a red light. If it takes cameras to enforce that, then I think we should use them.

Your mom probably taught you to respect authority. She probably also taught you to trust Officers of the Law. What's interesting is that you should never, under any circumstances, answer any questions the police ask you.

That probably seems like something guilty people say. You might think that you have nothing to lose if you're absolutely certain that you're innocent of any crimes. You might think it's your civic duty to cooperate immediately with the noble men and women who've sacrificed part of their lives to keeping the peace. 

The guy in this video will explain to you why you're wrong. He analyzes a ton of scenarios (more than you've thought of) and shows you how in each case you should not talk to the police. Even if you're innocent. Hell, especially if you're innocent. Don't believe me? Watch the video.

 

 

I've got this friend, let's call him Chris Christofferson (without all the K's, because, you know...), and the other day he asked the age old question – "What's more important: living a long time, or enjoying the pleasures life has to offer?"

I'm paraphrasing because I didn't really enjoy the way he phrased the question (at least the way I remember him phrasing it). 

CornFlowerIt's hard to argue against trying to stay healthy. I think that even when I've been my most wild and carefree with food, I've still felt guilty about indulgence. So, you enjoy the taste of something delicious and you get to: hate your lack of will power; hate the way you look; and hate the way you feel. Louis C.K. said recently – "I didn't realize that you were supposed to eat to help you feel good. I thought you were just supposed to stuff your face with both hands until you felt too sick to keep going." I'm paraphasing because I'm not nearly as clever as he is.

Exercise is a pretty simple equation for me. As much as I hate to admit it, I feel way better when I'm getting regular exercise. I don't think it's just because of pride, either. I think that my energy level, joints, sleep cycle, and attitude is just better when I've done something. I had to take a break recently for about a month and it was terrible. I felt like my body was falling apart.

Starvation is hard to defend. Studies have shown that caloric restriction in rodents can increase their lifespan by 67.5%. Caloric restriction in humans seems to only yield a 7% increase. That's good news, I guess. You don't get to live forever by dropping to 1500 calories, but you don't have to feel like you're killing yourself if you're not starving. It's a weird tradeoff that I'd be happy to not undertake.  

Have you ever heard of exercise bulimia? That's where you binge on food and then exercise like a crazy person until you feel like you've burned all the calories. There's also a form of anorexia where you eat a reasonable amount of food but then you exercise so much that you're underfed the whole time. You need an easy way to gauge whether you've gone past reasonable. I know people with a terrible body image and they use that as an excuse to starve themselves constantly (I bet you know some too). 

I'll leave you with some warning signs that you may be an exercise bulimic:

  • Missing work, parties or other appointments in order to work out
  • Working out with an injury or while sick
  • Becoming unusually depressed if unable to exercise
  • Working out for hours at a time each day
  • Not taking any rest or recovery days
  • Defining self-worth in terms of performance
  • Justifies excessive behavior by defining self as a "special" elite athlete

 

There's a reason that nobody is vegan – it's too hard.

But I'm starting to think that there are a bunch of reasons why people should eat vegan most of the time. 

  1. The_china_studyHealth: I recently watched Forks Over Knives on Netflix (it's available to watch instantly). They talk a bunch about The China Study, and by the end it's pretty easy to believe that animal proteins aren't helping anyone. Our bodies are complex, hard to understand, delicate machines. So, of course, there are a million theories as to why they don't work as well as everything thinks they should. But, because of the complexity, many of these theories that seem to contradict each other might simultaneously be correct. Assuming you get the right balance of carbs, fat, and proteins, is there a reason you shouldn't skew towards unprocessed, plant-based nutrition? At least you'll finally be getting all the fiber your doctor thinks is so important.
  2. ForksOverKnivesMorality: My dogs and horses are no less part of my family than any human being. I know you've evolved to be carnivorous, but aren't there plenty of other instincts you've suppressed because you want to be a member of society? So why is it okay to raise animals to kill, or raise animals to enslave for milk and eggs? This sounds like I'm passing judgement; I'm really not. I don't have a moral objection of my own. I've certainly heard objections from other people though. Like I said, my animal friends are part of my family, but I don't care that much if two people on the other side of the world kill each other, and it doesn't bother me if a lion eats a zebra or an Australian eats a kangaroo. The moral argument makes me wonder though – do you have a moral objection that you're not acting on?
  3. Nausea: I guess this reason doesn't apply to a lot of people. I used to eat a lot of meat – probably more than my share and your share put together. Something happened though, and I had to stop. A strong aversion to meat started with me when I began having symptoms of an appendicitis. I gave up meat several months before I had to get my appendectomy. In fact, I read about meat aversion in one of the pamphlets at the hospital and thought, "Oh! I have that!" But now, it seems so obvious. Why aren't more people disgusted by meat? It's really hard for me to understand now. 

Anyway, your mom told me about vegans, and I thought you should know.

 

I bet your mom already told you about this too, but just in case... Did you know that AIDs kills cancer? It doesn't.

T-cells can cure cancer though, if you have enough of them and they're specially trained to attack it. Turns out that the best way (found so far) to alter the T-cells is to modify them using a form of HIV as the carrier for the new cancer-fighting genes. Here's the article in the NYT

WmLudwigThe guy they tried this on is named William Ludwig. As far as I can tell, this is NOT the same William Ludwig as the drum guy. Those drums are awesome though. I wonder if the cancer-fighting Ludwig can play the drums at all?

If you want to know more about the treatment that Ludwig received, I recommend this cartoon at xkcd.

The surgery went well, I think. They said to expect bruising and swelling – I didn't really have those. They said to expect pain – that was minimal on most days. They said to expect to be in the recovery room for about an hour – I was there for about four hours.hernia1

Just in case I forget next time, can someone remind me that I don't do well with general anesthesia? The same thing happened when I had my appendectomy. They examine me beforehand and judge that I will "do well" with general. I don't. I couldn't even keep my eyes open for a full minute until about six that night. In a way, it was awesome. Sleep is a wonderful gift when being awake makes it hard to breathe.

hernia2I have no reason to complain. Everything went great and I feel really good. Three weeks have passed since the procedure and they told me to wait three to four before getting back to exercise. I can hear Tony Horton (P90X guy) calling to me from the DVDs. He's been taking it easy on me, because he knew I was recuperating, but we all know that I'm going to have to Bring IT very soon. My plan is to start fresh on Wednesday.

HerniaIncisionsThe first time, I made it completely through P90X. The second time, I only got through six weeks of P90X before stopping for the injury. So, I'm just going to call this "Round 2" and forget about the failed round. Also, I'm starting this revision of "Round 2" thirty pounds lighter than I started the last round (more on that later). I'm hoping to figure out how to build lean weight this time, whereas before I was always fine with losing. 

Subcategories

Reclusion - the state of being separated from society, but this word carries the connotation that the separation is a chosen way of life. 

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